4-Months of Dead Air?

Wow, it’s hard to believe it’s been 4-months since I last published a post on IndyScan.com.  A lot’s been happening and I’ve obviously not been documenting it here!

My activity on Facebook has increased and I’m giving Instagram another try so the details are out there for those of you who know where to look!  I’m currently testing a plugin that will increase the activity on the blog by posting my favorite Instagram pictures here (just tested it right before this post!).  One of these days I’ll have things streamlined where I can share things with everyone everywhere with a single submission (getting really close to that now).

One of the new activities I’m taking part of this year is kayaking.  I grew up canoeing and have always loved the water.  This year was the year to get back out there.  In May I took advantage of the Rusted Moon Outfitters annual sale (20% off!) and picked up a new Dagger Axis 12-foot kayak.  I used the savings to offset the cost of a really nice carbon/fiberglass paddle and kayak specific life vest.

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Dagger-Axis-120-Molten-Side

Having gone on several lake and river paddles I can honestly say this is one hell of a boat.  Very comfortable positioning and ride as well as highly maneuverable.  The retractable Skeg (basically a fixed rudder) makes tracking on open water dead straight and when retracted the boat turns on a dime.

I went on a 2-day overnight (camping) trip with some of the guys from work and I had plenty of room for all my equipment, even though I totally over packed!

Since kayaking has become my preferred form of exercise I decided to add one more piece of gear to the mix.  The Garmin Fenix 3 HR GPS/Smartwatch.  Previously I tried out an Apple Watch and was less than impressed.  After reading the reviews I really wanted to give the Garmin a try.

Garmin-Fenix-F3-HRWell this thing is a completely different animal.  It’s rugged as all get out and does many things very well.  You get all the notifications of a Smartwatch but you also get a ton of tracking info for outdoor activities and it’s completely configurable to match your needs.  From running to hiking to water sports and cycling.  This watch does it all and I could not be happier with the purchase.  It’s great to have an electronic dashboard on your wrist with all of your exercise stats as well as full navigation of where you’ve been and how to get back.  It even has weather alerts (web and barometer based) so you don’t get caught off guard when mother nature decides to storm on your outing.

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The image above shows a solo kayak run from Lafayette Trace (near Bongies in Perkinsville) to White River Canoe Company just south of Noblesville.  15+ miles in just under 5 hours.  It was the first time I got to put the Garmin to use and it performed flawlessly.  All of my distance, speed, and heart rate stats were compiled throughout the trip.  I can use the info to gauge my fitness level as well as track improvements or areas that need worked on.

So it’s obvious my new extra curricular activities have shifted focus away from blogging but at least I’m getting exercise!  Look for more posts in the future along with a few trip reports from upcoming kayaking adventures I plan to have before the snow starts flying.

Until next time…

My Week With The Apple Watch

Thought it might be a good idea to take some time out on this Friday night*** and post a much-needed update to the Blog.  Amazing how life gets in the way and posts end up being weeks apart…  You should see the number of drafts I have queued up so it’s not like I’m not thinking about blogging!

I stopped in the Apple store a few weeks ago just to look around and all the new toys and get a hands on demo of the Apple Watch.  The employee assisting us was very helpful and he did such a good job I ended up making an impulse buy of an Apple Watch Sport (and a night stand dock).

I’ll admit it, I fell for the hype and it was totally an impulse buy (happens more than I like to admit).  I justified the purchase to myself as an updated FitBit that did a lot more than just track my steps.  Yeah, that’s the ticket!

If youu_10138874 haven’t checked out the Apple Watch it’s worth it just to see the design, fit, finish, and how it looks on your wrist.  It’s a beautifully designed piece of electronics (as most Apple products are).  The watch/band combinations are numerous and I’m a little surprised they didn’t package the watch by itself with the bands being an add-on accessory.
There are 3 watch models (in several colors) and 2 watch sizes all with the SAME internal components.  The prices are all over the map when you pair the watch with the various bands.  I opted for the $399 “Sport” model in brushed gold with a dark blue band (my shopping companion quickly identified it as the Notre Dame model).

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After arriving home I had to charge the watch for about an hour before I could fire it up.  Initial setup takes about 20 minutes while the companion apps are loaded from your phone.  It took another 24-36 hours before things are totally synced and you are able to get all the alerts you would normally get on your phone (way longer than I expected).

The idea of having a mini phone display on your wrist, instantly accessible, is a good one in theory.  My biggest problem was holding my arm at the viewing angle for an extended period along with the issue of being able to focus on the small screen.

I’ll admit I’m getting older and my arms are sometimes not long enough to properly focus on things like books and menus without a little help from Foster Grant.

Tl_10138874_002his was an immediate problem that I didn’t really notice during the in-store demo.  I’m not going to whip out my reading glasses every time I want to look at my wrist candy (Strike 1).

Another issue I ran into is the information actually presented on the watch screen.  I get hundreds of emails a day and more times than not the message was unable able to be displayed on the screen because of the format.  Not to mention viewing attachments is out of the question (Strike 2).

Battery life during the first day, like with any new toy, was not impressive because I was fidgeting with my new toy all day long.  It improved in the days following as I used the watch less and less.  Apple advertises a full day of usage between charges and I was getting that (Ball 1).

The final issue was the fact you have to make a specific flip of your wrist to get the display to wake up.  Raising your arm works 50% of the time.  Other times you have to rotate your wrist in a weird way to get the watch to activate.  Hard to describe but anyone who has one of these devices knows exactly what I’m talking about (Strike 3).

seiko-divers-pepsi-bezel-blue-dial-automatic-stainless-steel-men_s-watch-skx009Apple offers a 10-day return policy on the watch and I ended up taking advantage of it 7 days into the experiment.  Returning it was totally painless and when I mentioned the viewing issues to the employee processing the return she indicated it’s not an uncommon complaint (and reason for return).

So my Apple Watch experiment is over (for now) and I can honestly say I don’t miss it.  I continue to enjoy my Seiko Automatic Dive Watch for its simplicity (no batteries) and I look forward to the next version of the Apple Watch that’s rumored to be announced sometime this year.

Do you have an Apple Watch?  What’s your experience been like?  Hit me up in the comment section below.

***While listening to The Very Best Of The Violent Femmes on Spotify

GoPro Amazement – Part 1

Decided to bite the bullet and purchase a GoPro this past weekend. I keep seeing all of these cool videos with interesting angles and pumping soundtracks. I’m no extreme athlete but I think I can put together some quality material of things I’m involved in and activities around the city.  Hell, driving to work some days is like a scene from an action movie.  Why not put that action to music!

gopro-hero4-lrgAlways a lover of photography I’ve never really done any videography (except for that one time I had a camcorder and my kids were babies). One of the biggest problems I remember about  the camcorder era was all the tapes you had to purchase and keep track of. With everything now being digital it’s not as much of physical space you’re worried about it’s virtual (hard drive) space. Same problem, different decade I guess.

The GoPro series of cameras have evolved pretty steadily since 2005 with the introduction of the “GoPro HERO 35mm, All-Season Sports Camera”. An update was introduced just about every year with the release of the latest “Session” model in 2015.

I picked up the late 2014 model called the Hero4 Silver. It’s not bleeding edge but it’s got some pretty good specs when it comes to shooting video and taking stills. Some features to note are:

  • 2704×1520 at 30 frames a second (2.7k) video*
  • 1920×1080 at 60 frames a second (1080p) video
  • 1280×720 at 120 frames a second (720p) video**
  • 4000 x 3000 12MP photo with a 30/sec frame burst mode***
  • Time Lapse (0.5-60 second intervals)
  • Night Lapse (low light capability)

*The Hero 4 will do 4k video but only 15 frames a second so I don’t see it being that useful.
**This is what I’ll be shooting at while I learn. Gives a decent picture, smaller file size and Slow-Mo capabilities.
***Could be useful for close up fast action sports but there is a noticeable shutter lag

gopro-hero4-lrg backSo after charging the Hero4 and inserting the MicroSD card I took off to shoot some random videos. Filling about half of the memory card with a lot of miscellaneous shots I headed back to the IndyScan HQ to see what I had and what I could do with it.

Then it (finally) hit me. This is nothing like photography where you’re dealing with a single image capturing a fraction of a second of time. This is a living picture (for lack of a better term) that not only has (many) images but audio!

Time to use technology to solve a technological problem (I bet our parents never said that). I hit up the Google Machine and within a few seconds I had all the tutorials I could ask for. One in particular I want to give props too is Village Park Source who has a great 42-part series that walks you through Go Pro Studio. The videos are short and to the point. Easy to follow along and test yourself on what you learned afterwards too.

So what I thought was going to be something I could just pickup and run with turned out to be anything but that. It’s a great opportunity to learn something new and interesting. It’ll be a while before I get up to a jog from this walk.

Time to get back to the tutorials and see what I can learn over the next few nights. I have some activities this weekend I want to shoot both photos and videos of. Look for Part 2 in a few days.  Videos coming soon too I hope!

P.S. I’m trying the “new” (to me) writing style where you don’t put 2 spaces between your sentences. Anyone older than 35 probably does this instinctively but evidently it’s frowned upon in the professional writing community. Thoughts?  Post them in the comments section below.

Mac+Win = Awesomeness

I was a PC guy for a long time but I started using a Mac at work in late 2012 because I have customers that use them. I figured it would be a good way to learn something new and add another skill set to my toolbox.

Once you fall into the Apple Matrix you have some amazing tools. My iPad, Macbook, and iPhone are all in sync with each other. I can leave my phone in my pocket or bag and send/receive text messages and even make phone calls from the laptop. Gotta love technology and this stuff just keeps getting better!

I’m on the fence about the Apple Watch. Probably going to wait until version 2 comes out before giving it any serious thought.  I love watches but having one that will be obsolete in a few years is weird.  Maybe I’m looking at it wrong.

I continue to be really impressed with the MacBook Pro and the Parallels application that allows you to run a virtual install of Windows in the Mac environment.  It allows you to run both operating systems at once seamlessly.

Nerd Alert, the following is a little geeky…

You can actually run just about any Operating System, in Parallels (Linux, Server, etc.). It takes a bit of setup but once done you get the best of both worlds.  Mac applications run in the Mac environment and Windows applications run in the Windows virtual environment.  The only way to tell what is what is a pair of vertical bars on the icon.

Setup requires a full install of Windows (I started with Win7 and have moved to Win10) and all the normal licensing of applications.  You can pay a little extra to get a special cable to migrate an existing Windows machine but in my experience it didn’t work that well so I started with a clean install.

The entire Windows virtual machine resides in one (large) file which makes it easier to backup (Parallels performs regular snapshots too).  You can have several virtual machine instances for testing too.  Performance and stability are impressive with just a minor hit to overall battery life.  In other words this is a totally usable system that has very little impact on how your Mac functions.

If you’re a Windows user that’s been wanting to try a Mac or if you’re a Mac user who misses some of your favorite Windows applications this setup is worth checking out.

6-hours With an iPhone 6…

…and so far I like it!

apple-iphone-6Quick review now & I’ll probably do a more in-depth one in a few weeks.

It’s larger than the 5s it’s replacing and about as big as I’m willing to go with a phone.  NO WAY was I going to even think about the 6 Plus.  The Apple leather case is a great addition that gives enough grip to keep me from dropping the phone every time I pick it up but not so much that you can’t easily slip it into your pocket.

119The release of iOS8 has caused just about every application I use to issue an update (or two) & that seems like all I’ve done is update apps this afternoon.   I still have a few that are crashing (like DropBox) & I’m hoping the next update will resolve that.

I’m fortunate that my employer pays for me to get the latest and greatest gadgets to help test before we deploy to 300+ engineers who have no patience for things that don’t work (the way they want them to).  If you have an iPhone 4/4s/5 it’s worth considering an upgrade.  If you’re already using a 5s you’re not going to see that much of a difference (yet).  I’m very excited to see how the mobile pay application works once it comes online in October.  And I’ll have to admit the watch look pretty damn interesting too.